10 Tips for Grabbing Last Minute Holiday Shoppers

last minute holiday shoppers

All holiday season, your small retail shop has been battling the big online retailers. Well, here’s some good news. As Christmas gets closer, and consumers get less willing to pay for costly shipping (or risk gifts not arriving in time), your brick-and-mortar store has a big advantage over online retailers.

With free shipping a huge selling point for online shoppers, consumers have gotten spoiled to the point they hate to pay for shipping. That means after Free Shipping Day (the last day when participating retailers guarantee shipping by Christmas – it’s December 18 this year), you’ll see a lot more last minute holiday shoppers hitting the pavement in search of gifts.

So how can you get the business of these last minute holiday shoppers?

Grabbing Last Minute Holiday Shoppers

Position Yourself as the Answer to Their Problems

Your marketing messages should emphasize that your store offers last minute gift solutions. Tell them that you offer fast, easy service and a wide range of products that will ease their holiday stress.

Of course, make sure you can deliver on these promises.

Offer In-Store Pickup

If you have an eCommerce site, offer last minute holiday shoppers the option to order online and pick up products in-store.

Make sure to set a cut-off date and time online orders need to be placed so shoppers aren’t disappointed.

Provide Assistance by Phone

While you may not want to hold unpaid products for customers for an extended time during this season, you can offer to hold them for an hour or so. You can have employees take credit card orders over the phone and hold the purchased products for in-store pick-up.

Make it Easy for Customers to Contact You

Last minute holiday shoppers are in a frenzy and will often want to get in touch before they head out to your store to make sure you have product on hand.

Make sure that your store’s contact information, including email, phone number and address, is clearly visible above the fold (before they have to scroll down to see it) on every page of your website.

Then make sure you’re answering your phone and checking that email constantly.  Also include driving directions and/or a map to make getting there easier.

Update Your Presence on Local Search Sites

Check your listings on local search sites such as Google Places and Local.com. Make sure your listings are current and include information about any promotions, sales or special offers.

In short, anything that will help persuade shoppers to choose you over the competition.

Simplify Last Minute Shopping With “Grab and Go” Gifts

You can set up displays with products grouped together in ways that make sense, such as “gifts for Dad,” “gifts for the kids,” “gifts for the hostess,” etc. You can also group products by price “gifts under $10,” “gifts under $50,” etc.

You can even display the unwrapped products and then wrap up gift baskets or boxes with the products inside so customers can just grab the wrapped sets and buy them. Make sure wrapped packages are clearly marked as to what’s inside.

Offer In-Store Gift Wrapping Services

Last minute holiday shoppers love one stop shopping. Help them stress less by offering gift wrapping in-store. You can offer a free option with basic wrap and ribbon, then charge for more elaborate wrapping.

You can also sell gift wrap, gift tags, tape and cards right by the register for those who want to do it themselves, but don’t want to make a separate stop at another store for supplies.

Don’t Forget the Impulse Buys

Put small stocking stuffer type products next to the registers or the areas where customers wait in line.

Extend Your Hours

If you aren’t already doing so, open early and stay open late in the days leading up to Christmas. Be sure to promote the extended hours via email, text messaging, social media and store signage.

Try Online Advertising

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) can work great this time of year if you buy ads that serve up when last minute holiday shoppers look for gift ideas or last minute gifts online.

Try these tips and take advantage of the last full weekend of Christmas shopping!

Shopping Photo via Shutterstock


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

7 Reactions
  1. Good article and advice, to engage customers in store better services such as this will definitely help bring back customers. However retailers that constantly think ahead innovate and adapt in an ever hanging industry will stay in business longer than those that stick to tried and trusted methods/practices. I work for McGladrey and there is a whitepaper on our website that talks in detail about the future of retail and it offers great advice for retailers on how they can increase retail sales and stay ahead of the curve @ ” Post recession strategies for retailers” http://bit.ly/18Skei5

  2. I tend to leave my shopping til the very last minute for most occasions and really appreciate extended hours when offered, particularly closing times. Extending opening and closing times should definitely be a consideration for a small business (or any sized business for that matter). On the cusp of Xmas or most holidays, I think customers are more likely to make on-the-spot purchase decisions.

    • Yes. There are some of us who are too busy to really make a planned trip to the mall to buy all the Christmas presents. The extended hours is good but it can also be quite stressful especially with all the Christmas rush.

  3. Also, try to offer delivery services. While it may require some effort, lots of last minute shoppers appreciate this. It is better if it is a same-day delivery service.

  4. Besides including driving directions and a map to make getting there easier, it might help too to include GPS coordinates for the exact location.

  5. I agree to the fact that everyone loves to go on a buying spree specially by the end of the season. As last minute shopping offers a good opportunity to buyers to get cool offers & deals to hangout with, as well as to the retailer too, if this opportunity is taken care off in a better manner. The propagation of last sale should be done in a best possible manner to attract large number of people